Lancet shifts focus to Indian healthcare

In a series of seven research papers and articles, Lancet shows way for universal health coverage in India


Sonal Matharu | January 11, 2011

Famed medical journal Lancet released on Tuesday its series of seven research papers on the healthcare challenges faced by India. It has been published in collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). The detailed assessment of various healthcare needs in the country has been done by experts in the field of public health which aims to guide the policy makers on achieving universal health coverage by 2020.

While interacting with the journalists, PHFI president Dr K Srinath Reddy highlighted the problems crunching the Indian healthcare system. “Indian healthcare is suffering due to inadequate financing, high level of out of pocket spending, lack of drug availability, besides other things,” he said.

He added that the country has the resources to meet these challenges and a beginning must be made now to achieve the target of 2020. “We must correct the imbalances in the health systems. Health inequalities, health finances, human resources in health, all are tied together for universal health coverage,” he said.

The Lancet’s editor Richard Horton who was also present at the occasion, said, “There is little incentive to act on health in India. Health always comes second, third or fourth in the list, next to economy. But the government must see health of the country’s population as a catalyst for country’s economy.”

He added that political will is needed urgently to act on problems in healthcare and public demand has to be created. “Health as a right can be achieved only by mass mobilization. There must be a social movement for health,” he said.

The Lancet team along with members of PHFI personally went and presented a copy of the India series of the journal to prime minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, informed Horton. Dr Reddy added that the PM recognised the need for greater investment in health and would act on the recommendations given by the expert group on health constituted by the Planning Commission.

The Lancet has already released a similar series in Mexico, China and South Africa. The series on India include articles on infectious diseases, reproductive and child health and nutrition, chronic diseases and injuries in India, and human resources for health in India among others.

Four Indian editors of the special series of The Lancer are: PHFI president Dr K Srinath Reddy, AIIMS head of department (paediatrics) Dr Vinod K Paul, professor at International Mental Health, Goa, Vikram Patel, and UNICEF India advisor Dr A K Shiva Kumar.



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